A youth pastor of the Thantlang Centennial Baptist Church was reportedly shot and killed while trying to help one of the church members save their burning home after it was set afire during an artillery barrage by the Myanmar military on Saturday.
The pastor was identified in multiple reports and social media posts as Cung Biak Hum of Thantlang Centennial Baptist Church.
In pictures, More than 15 houses have been burned down in Chin State's Thantlang Town, and they cannot stop the fire since 3:30 pm this afternoon.6:40 pm, A man identified as Cung Biak Hum, a Christian youth pastor at Thantlang Centennial Baptist Church was shot dead by the Junta pic.twitter.com/FjfMp5KbS4
— Nyein (@Nyein24049716) September 18, 2021
According to one report, Cung was shot by soldiers after he came out in order to help put out a fire at a home that was hit by the military's artillery fire.
The pastor's Facebook page, which has been set up as a memorial account, reveals he was married and had two young sons. He received his Masters in Divinity from MIT Yangon.
In a tweet on Saturday, United Nations Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews wrote about Cung's murder and the "living hell" the people of Myanmar were being subjected to daily by Myanmar's military dictators.
"The murder of a Baptist minister and bombing of homes in Thantlang, Chin State are the latest examples of the living hell being delivered daily by junta forces against the people of Myanmar," he wrote.
"The world needs to pay closer attention. More importantly, the world needs to act," Andrews added.
The murder of a Baptist minister and bombing of homes in Thantlang, Chin State are the latest examples of the living hell being delivered daily by junta forces against the people of Myanmar. The world needs to pay closer attention. More importantly, the world needs to act. https://t.co/iqGNeHSN2W
— UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews (@RapporteurUn) September 18, 2021
In a statement released Monday, the Baptist World Alliance, a global Christian group representing 47 million Baptists in 241 church bodies located in 126 countries and territories, called for those who killed Rev. Cung to be held responsible.
"On September 18, over 19 houses were burned down by military forces. Baptist Pastor Rev. Cung Biak Hum attempted to help as one of the houses belonged to a member of his church. Instead, upon his arrival on the scene, he was shot and killed by military soldiers – making him the first Baptist minister to die due to the ongoing conflicts. The military soldiers also stole his cell phone, watch, and cut off his finger in order to steal his wedding ring," the statement said.
In addition, the group also asked for the immediate release of another pastor, the Rev. Thian Lian Sang, and the restoration of all of the homes burned by the Myanmar military.
Myanmar has been wracked by unrest since the military ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, with initially peaceful demonstrations against the ruling generals morphing into a low-level insurrection in many urban areas after security forces used deadly force.
An estimated 1,000 civilians have been killed in the seven months of clashes that followed the army takeover.
The National Unity Government, the main underground group coordinating resistance to Myanmar's military government, issued a sweeping call for a nationwide uprising on Tuesday, raising the prospect of spiraling unrest.
NUG acting president Duwa Lashi La declared what he called a "state of emergency" and called for revolt "in every village, town and city in the entire country at the same time." The group has established "people's defense forces" in many areas, but these usually carry out small hit-and-run guerrilla operations.
The news agency Myanmar Now tweeted images of rallies against the military junta that were held on Wednesday.
Multiple rallies against Myanmar's military junta were held in Mandalay today (Sep 22) by various protest groups, including members of the Sangha Union as well as the Mandalay Boycott Forces protest column.
— Myanmar Now (@Myanmar_Now_Eng) September 22, 2021
Myanmar's military is one of the largest in Southeast Asia and has a reputation for toughness and brutality from years of jungle warfare.
Charlie Thame, a political scientist at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand, told the Associated Press that it would be wrong to underestimate the resistance's strength or popular opposition to what he described as "generations of brutal oppression" by the military.
Myanmar is ranked 18th on Open Doors' 2021 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution